Tagged as: fitness

Strength Training – Something to Think About, and then Do

Something to Think About, and then Do is a series of articles to inform you about training and exercise concepts and to provide ways of bringing them into your daily life. So far, you’ve read about core, posture, glute amnesia, cardio fitness, hydration, balance and the importance of moving.  Now we discuss strength training.

Our eighth installment is about Strength Training.

I’d like to start with a few basic principles. First and foremost, strength training is for everyone. Second, strength training is an enabler of balance, coordination, and good health. Last but not least, building strength builds confidence.


What is strength training?

Also known as resistance training, it is the use of muscle force against some form of resistance. You can do strength training with nothing more than your
body weight, as with squats, pushups, crunches and planks. The resistance can be enhanced and intensified by using equipment such as dumbbells, kettlebells, resistance bands, or weight stacks on an exercise apparatus; also everyday objects at home can be used for resistance, like a gallon of juice or milk, a bag of groceries or even a child or a pet (I remember doing flying angel leg extensions with the weight of my daughters). With or without equipment, there are hundreds of workouts that can accommodate all levels of fitness and fitness goals. Strength training has been found to have a number of positive effects on your health and well-being, as identified in scientific studies conducted over the decades and that continue today:

• Improving strength of muscles, tendons and ligaments
• Improving balance, coordination, and injury prevention
• Building strong bones by increasing bone density
• Increasing lean muscle mass, reversing the effects of muscle loss that come with
sedentary behavior and aging
• Increasing metabolism, burning more calories throughout the day
• Improving range of motion and joint flexibility
• Controlling blood sugar level

Increase Confidence

In addition to all that, strength training increases confidence. When you are stronger you can do more for yourself. You feel better about yourself. You might even sleep better. Sound too good to be true? Hear about transformations some of our members (your friends and neighbors) have experienced. Many of their stories have been recorded and can be found here and on our Facebook page.


Strength Training Programs

Whether you are new to strength training or you want to enhance your workout, we have a number of offerings for all levels, ranging from one-on-one, to small groups of 8-10, to larger classes. As always, we are here to help you find the right approach for your personal goals.  Click Here for frequently asked questions about our Strength Training Programs!


Click Here to Learn More!

Vive la resistance!

Something to Think About, and then Do – Moving

Written by Susan Brano

Something to Think About, and then Do is a series of articles to inform you about training and exercise concepts and to provide ways of bringing them into your daily life. So far, you’ve read about core, posture, glute amnesia, cardio fitness, hydration and balance. Our seventh installment is about Moving.

You just finished your 45 minute workout at 5050 and you feel pretty good. You waved your arms and legs around, lifted some weights, did a few moves on the TRX, and stretched. Phew! You’re all set now until your next session in a day or 2, right? Yes and no.

Taking classes and/or working with a personal trainer provide an excellent foundation for a strong, healthy life. They also provide inspiration for wanting to continue. After your workout at 5050, you’ve earned time to relax, read a book, watch a little TV. But you also want to build on that excellent foundation by moving. There is a misconception that for movement to be beneficial, it needs to be ‘exercise’. If you do push-ups or sit-ups or the like at home, that’s great and you should continue to do so. If you don’t, don’t fret. The important thing is to move. That’s what our muscles are made for and that’s what will keep us healthy and strong.


There are many things you can do throughout that day for your muscles. Here are some suggestions: if you’re sitting, move from sitting to standing a few times, maybe do a few squats, swing your legs and arms, roll your neck; take a walk, varying the speed (fast-slowfast-slow); play catch with a person or a pet. Gardening is good, bending up and down (with good form), grabbing and pulling weeds. Yard work of all types: mowing the lawn (with a push mower), moving rocks around (back straight, core engaged), trimming bushes. You can always put on some music and dance! Lastly, a few stretches: reach up to the ceiling on flat feet and on your toes, reach down to the floor, reach up and over from side to side, repeat.

Movement is good for your muscles and joints, and good for your soul. I’ve heard so many times how good clients feel after moving, which is good for my soul.


Janis’ Story. Cancer. Comeback. Ferocity.

My career began as an English teacher, but while I loved the students, I felt frustrated with the subject matter. I was offered an opportunity to run a high school library and found that the interdisciplinary nature of the work was exactly what I liked. Over the past thirty years I’ve worked with students from pre-school to grad school, helping them find, evaluate, and assimilate information about every subject you can imagine. Since retiring from full-time work I’ve taught grad classes for Simmons College Library and Information Studies program and have supervised grad students when they go into schools to do their internships to become certified as library teachers.

When I retired one of my first priorities was getting back into shape. I’ve always been a walker, but I added Pilates classes to my routine. When Mindy’s classes moved to 50/50, I came along. Katie occasionally subbed for Mindy, and I, like everyone else in the classes, fell in love with her. She and Mindy collaborated on developing a TRX class that incorporated Pilates principles, so I added that to my exercise schedule.

Two years ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Although I had planned to keep exercising throughout treatment, I had several complications and by the time I was out of treatment I felt like I had lost every muscle in my body. Among other things, I developed thoracic outlet syndrome and weak, sore knees. I went to PT, got stronger, and started working with a personal trainer at 50/50, Michael McCarthy. I enthusiastically went back to my walking, pilates and TRX, but overdid it and ended up with more aches and pains.

Again, I went to PT, but it didn’t help, so I came back to 50/50 and started working with Brittany. She has been amazing. Brittney has taught me how to use the right muscles for each exercise instead of having my back, neck or knees do all the work. It has made a huge difference and I feel stronger and more confident about my ability to exercise without reverting to the old cycle of overdoing it and hurting myself. One of the most unexpected, fun parts of training is punching Bob! I never thought I was the kind of person who could hit something, but after I threw my first punch my inner boxer jumped out! I love it! It makes me feel strong, fierce, and indomitable!

This fall my husband and I are traveling to Tanzania for a safari and in March I am to England with my book group. Our group has been together for 35 years and we always talked about doing a trip together. Now that we are retired, our time has come.

I have stayed with 50/50 Fitness/Nutrition over the years because of the skillful, engaging, fun staff and the sense of community you have built. I feel like I am coming in to talk with friends and have a good time. There is a wonderful mix of ages and a great environment. I’ve gone to a lot of different exercise places over the years. I found the level of teachers to be uneven and the atmosphere felt cold and anonymous. 50/50 is the exact opposite. It’s a pretty remarkable place.

-Janis Wolkenbreit


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Balance. Something to Think about, and then Do.

Written by our trainer Susan Brano
Something to Think About, and then Do is a series of articles to inform you about training and exercise concepts and to provide ways of bringing them into your daily life. So far, you’ve read about core, posture, glute amnesia, cardio fitness, and hydration.
Our sixth installment is about Balance.
Balance is that subtle skill that keeps us from falling. We all have it, to varying degrees, and it is at work all the time. If you’re sitting on a chair or on a Bosu ball, standing on one foot or two, balance is keeping you up upright. If you’re walking, running, skiing, climbing stairs, gardening, bending over to tie your shoes, making your way through an obstacle course…you get the picture, it’s always at play.
The ability to maintain balance is imperative for avoiding injury, improving physical fitness and improving athletic ability. To make all that possible, the nervous system is continually processing input from many sources. Three that are germane to our discussion include visual cues, proprioception and neuromuscular control.
For visual cues, the most obvious one is having your eyes open or closed, an affect that can easily be tested: Stand on one or two feet with your eyes open. Now close your eyes. Losing visual input requires the nervous system to adjust. The speed of that adjustment will vary based on conditioning. Another visual cue that can affect your balance is your point of focus. When you are learning to balance on one foot or on a Bosu, your eyes may wander. This would create extraneous visual input. Focusing on a single object limits the input and helps you balance.
Proprioception, which happens to be one of my favorite words, is awareness of the location of the body in space, i.e., knowing the location of your head, hands, arms, legs, feet, etc., based on input from various receptors. This input is an important component of maintaining balance. Lastly, neuromuscular control plays a primary role in balancing. Like any physical activity, balance is dependent the right muscle(s) being activated at the right time. As you’ve learned in previous articles (core, posture, glute amnesia), using the right muscles can improve mobility and skill, eliminate common aches (e.g., low back pain) and help avoid injury. Likewise, with balance. As you walk, if you are slouching because your core muscles are taking the day off, not only will your gait be affected but your balance will, too, possibly resulting in a trip or a fall. Training your body to improve balance will reinforce your other training and could awaken muscles you didn’t know you had. That’s a good thing! As they awaken and get stronger and learn how to work together, you’ll see benefits in your daily life and in all levels of physical activity.
There are many things you can do at home to improve your balance. Start by standing on one foot but first, to make sure your using the right muscles, check your posture (engage your core, shoulders down and back, neutral pelvis (no excessive arch in your back). Ok, now raise one foot off the floor and squeeze the standing glutes. As you master static balance, challenge yourself by adding some motion. The one that many of my clients have heard from me is brushing your teeth while standing on one foot. That’s a good one because it’s something you do at least twice a day (right?) so you have lots of opportunity practice. You can add a calf raise or leg swing to amp it up. A couple other moves you can do at home include single leg squat and warrior 3 pose (hinge at the hip, neutral back, torso forward, straight arms forward, one leg back).


As a general rule, to progress your balance training, go from 2 feet on the floor to one; from static to dynamic (e.g., swing a leg, toss a ball, touch the floor, hop); change the foundation from fixed (floor) to standing on various pieces of equipment, like that which you may have had the pleasure to use at 5050: black sponge pad, balance disk, Bosu with either the black or blue side up, and our latest addition, the boogie board.
Balancing is fun and very satisfying.
May the force be with you.

The Healthiest Looking Hair For The Woman Living An Active Lifestyle

Written by Jamie Cocco
With Our Instructor and Professional Hair Stylist Sarah Blackmore

The Healthiest Hair while Living an Active Lifestyle

Is the frustration of having healthy looking hair and living an active lifestyle getting to you? Having great hair and an active lifestyle don’t have to be mutually exclusive. In this Community in Focus Article we interview Our Spinning, Barre, Tabata, and Outdoor Fit Camp Instructor and Professional Hair Stylist Sarah Blackmore from Salon Herdis in Northampton about how to find that perfect balance.

What do you do when you are told not to wash your hair every day, but life and fitness say otherwise? Client after client ask our Instructor and professional hair stylist questions like this all the time, and in this article, we give you insights into how to have the healthiest looking hair while living an active lifestyle.

Understanding your Hair

How often should you be washing your hair? This question is not a simple one, so we will first talk about how to target your hair by explaining the different types of hair and how to impact it the most. Breaking it down further there are different types of density thin, medium, and thick. That is the amount of hair that you have on your head. Then we look at hair types, which is fine, medium, and coarse. Essentially you could have a combination of any density with any type such as medium fine.

Knowing your hair type matters

How do you know what combination you have? Hold one strand of hair in between your fingers, if you can’t feel that hair, you have fine hair, if you can feel the hair, then you have coarse hair, and if it is somewhere in between, where you say to yourself that you can kinda feel it, you have medium hair. It is important to know your hair type to help determine the right shampoos, conditioners, and styling products for your hair.

How often do we really have to wash our hair?

Sarah recommends if you are someone who washes your hair every day that a person moves to washing their hair every other day and to use a dry shampoo on the non-washing day. Why is it better to not wash your hair every day? Your body produces natural oils, and those oils protect your hair from outside elements. If you wash your hair every day, you are stripping your hair of that natural protection. Your body will then be forced to produce more oils to compensate for every day hair washing. When you begin washing your hair every other day, you may feel like a grease ball. It’s that feeling when you take your hair tie out and your hair is frozen in place. If you have gone that far, the only thing that will help is washing your hair, but for everything in between, its ok, because dry shampoo exists.

Pro Tip: Washing your hair 3x per week is ideal.  


The miracle known as dry shampoo

In the 1940s a miracle happened. Milk was 34 cents per gallon, 8 cents for a loaf of bread, and dry shampoo was born. Dry shampoo is a powder spray that when sprayed at your root absorbs oils and extends your style by up to two days. So, if you are like me, you may ask, how do I use dry shampoo?

  • Shake the can
  • Hold the can 4″-6″ away from your head
  • Spray in sections around your head focusing at the root
  • Brush through for even distribution of the product

Don’t worry men, you aren’t completely left out, the right hair tie may not be right for you, but you can use dry shampoo too and get the same results as women.

Pro Tip: If you have held it in a spot too long and a white powder circle has formed, take your blow drier out and blow dry that section to boost the absorption of the product.


The best hair tie for your active life

Not all hair ties are created equal, and in this section, we talk about the hair tie that will make a world of difference for your style. Let’s be honest, we have all used the black tie and you probably even have one on your wrist right now and yes, they work great. They hold your hair back, but when you must take your hair out, you have that annoying pony tail crease left behind. And when we are avoiding washing our hair every day, that pony tail crease makes it that much harder.

Sarah says the Goomee hair tie, shown in the picture, doesn’t leave any mark in her hair, holds her hair in place through her entire workout, so she doesn’t have to constantly fix her hair throughout, and she works out hard. It doesn’t cause breakage, and easily shrinks back down to size when you put it in hot water. Sarah can put her hair up in a pony tail with one of these and at the end of the workout when she takes the hair tie out, voila, her hairstyle looks the same as when she started. #mindblown.

Pro Tip: Never put your hair up in a pony tail when your it is wet. Your hair has more elasticity when your hair is wet then when it is dry, and as it dries, it can snap causing that pesky breakage right around your face.

Bringing it all together

It is not healthy for your hair to wash it every day. It is ok to not wash your hair after exercise, and for you, dry shampoo will be your best friend. Not the best friend you stay up all night having heart to hearts with while watching the Golden Girls, but close to that. Washing your hair every other day is key and when aiming to keep your hair style looking its best through a workout, using a Goomee hair tie instead of your old friend the black hair tie will be a game changer. In the next article we will dive into what hair products work best for your hair type and lifestyle. Thanks for reading this article and drop in a comment about what you want to hear in our future healthy hair articles for the active woman.



If you’re like most people, the holidays are a time of mixed emotions. You’re excited and anxious to spend time with family, and you’re dreading the extra weight that you know you’re bound to gain. Are these holiday pounds inevitable?

Lean in close to catch these seven secret ways to help you fend off extra weight through the holidays. And once you’re done, don’t keep it a secret. Go tell somebody!

Holiday Secret #1: Listen to Your Body

It may not speak quickly enough all the time, but you know your body is constantly telling you things. Sometimes it tells you to stop a certain activity before you get hurt. During the holiday season, it tells you to put the brakes on your eating before you go beyond the point of no return. When your body tells you it’s full, listen up! A single bite after you’re full will lead to extra calories and eventually, extra pounds.

Holiday Secret #2: Confine the Holidays

For some, holidays become weeks and even months of poor eating. Be careful to avoid this pitfall by digging into your holiday foods only on the actual holiday. Treat the other days like normal days—even if you’re off of work. And when the holiday is over, let someone else take the leftovers home and go to your own house without any pudding or gravy in tow.

Holiday Secret #3: Eat First, Party Second

You read right—it’s good to eat before heading out the door. Have a healthy, well-rounded meal at home with fruits, vegetables, and your protein source of choice. And drink a tall glass of water. Why? So when you get to that holiday party that is overflowing with cookies, cakes, candies, and calories, you’re not hungry for it. Your stomach is full of healthy goodness and has no room for the fattening stuff.

Holiday Secret #4: Plan Your Escape

Getting away from food isn’t easy. If you expect to be able to walk away from delicious thigh- and gut-growing foods without any forethought, think again. Before walking into a potentially fattening situation, plan out what you’re going to eat and take your own dish to share if necessary. Any time there is a particularly difficult eating situation, make plans an hour or so after the dangerous-to-your-diet event begins and excuse yourself.

Holiday Secret #5: Exercise Everywhere

One of the best excuses to gain weight is that you have to travel to visit family and don’t have access to your personal trainer. Well, guess what? Just because your trainer isn’t staying in the hotel with you doesn’t mean you aren’t accountable! Scope out the area where you’ll be traveling and take advantage of whatever exercise opportunities are available. There may be a gym or pool at your hotel, a pay-as-you-go gym, or a nice park nearby where you can walk or run with or without family members.

Holiday Secret #6: Pay Attention to People

Holidays are about family and friends…right? Then stop focusing on food! When you go to a party, there is no need to hang out by the food table when there are people all around you! Ignore the grub and go for the meaningful stuff that you’ll remember and cherish. Besides, it’s much easier to talk without munching and you even listen better when you’re not stuck thinking about how good the next bite is going to be.

Holiday Secret #7: Drink Instead

No, this isn’t a license to drink as much alcohol as you can find. Doing that will add lots of useless calories to your waistline. Instead, do your best to make friends with a glass of water everywhere you go. As you mingle with your water glass, you’ll find it challenging to grab more than a couple of finger foods here and there, and the fact that it is water will help you remember to watch what else goes in your mouth!

Wouldn’t you love to make 2016 the year that you transform your body?

Wouldn’t it feel great to throw out all of your fat clothes? To look forward to bathing suit season? To be given a clean bill of health from your doctor? And to be showered with compliments by family, friends and that special someone?

It’s all more possible than you think.

But you’ll need to take massive action.


Go on, do it now and secure your spot before the New Year’s rush.

Top Tips for a Successful and Healthy Holiday Season

By: Marit Harney RD, LDN, CPT

Everyone is aware of the fact that eating and exercise habits tend to decline around the holidays, leaving most of us 2-5 pounds heavier by the time we hit January.  Many of us fail to lose all the weight and continue to slowly pack on the pounds year after year.  I’m sure you’re also aware of the many reasons WHY this happens to so many people, but maybe you didn’t connect the dots on all the factors that contribute to this unwanted behavior change. Below I have listed some of the most common factors for overeating or binge eating around the Holidays.

  • Family drama increases emotional stress                                                 download
  • Over committed schedule increases physical and emotional stress
  • Treats are flowing off every table you look at! Willpower is a finite power. The more you call upon it, the weaker you get.
  • Social acceptability or feeling obligated to eat or drink certain things. Maybe it’s time to create a new “norm” for yourself. After all, you deserve to be supported by those around you who care.

I have a proposition for you:

Let’s do things a little (and I mean a little, if that’s what’s do-able) different this year to minimize the damage

I’m phrasing it this way, because it’s realistic and cumulative in terms of beneficial effects. Year after year, if you do things just a little better/ different, you can slow or avoid the steady creeping weight.  What you won’t be doing is thinking that you will “stick to your healthy diet through the holidays and workout every day.” That’s not going to happen. Let’s get real!

Here are some practical tips to help you navigate positive changes during the holiday season. Take a look and consider doing the ones that seem the easiest this year. This does not mean do all the things on the list! You may also consider which of these changes may have the greatest impact on your habits, and start with that one thing. Once you have identified the thing(s) that you plan to work on, write it/them down.  I encourage you to also write your plans in the comments section below this article. This will

Help create a sense of community, support and accountability with others like you! 

  1. Load your plate up with the good stuff like veggies and meat.
    • Leave a little room for indulgences that your wouldn’t normally have. Moderation > deprivation.
  2. Get rid of junky leftovers ASAP
    • Either avoid having them by sending them with someone else, or give them away. Honestly, I don’t feel bad about throwing away food that will sabotage me or others. Don’t pawn off your problem foods onto someone else who might be struggling with willpower.
  3. Consistently eat a solid breakfast
    • This will set your mind and metabolism up for success for the day. I suggest a smoothie with a clean protein powder, almond or coconut milk, spinach, berries and ground flax. Eggs and veggies are always a good option as well.
  4. Sprinkle in exercise and make reasonable goals
    • Plan your exercise time for when you actually might have some time (wknds or days off) and get it done first thing in the AM. On the other days, aim to move your body as much or as often as you can. That might mean walking for 15 mins, doing 20-50 jumping jacks, squats, pushups or planks whenever you have a free moment. Exercise does not need to be done all at once. Fit in a little here and a little there, on your busy days.
  5. Practice yoga for 15 mins per day or do some form of stress management
    • Adding this practice into your daily routine can help you cope with stress, leaving you less reliant on treats and alcohol. This WEBSITE provides free multi level and time frame yoga classes that you can do at home! Also check out the Headspace App on your phone for a free 10 day for 10 minutes, guided meditation program.
  6. Drink lots of water
    • Properly hydrating will help regulate your appetite, give you more energy, and keep your metabolism humming along.
  7. Limit treats on days when you don’t have a party or “eating commitment”
    • Save your treats for when it matters at get-togethers.
  8. Bring a dish
    • Bring a healthy (or healthier) option that you and others can enjoy so you aren’t deprived
  9. Limit your use of willpower when possible
    •  Evaluate temping situations and decide if avoiding it is possible or reasonable. Save your willpower for when there is no avoiding a situation.
  10. Play up the non- alcoholic beverages
    • Ask for seltzer, a splash of juice (optional) and some lemon or lime in a glass with a straw. No one will know you’re not drinking a mixed drink. At a sit down dinner? Just say alcoholic drinks give you heart burn.
  11. Choose your treat if you’re having one
    • Either one alcoholic drink or one dessert. Choose red wine when possible.
  12. Recognize your trigger foods and avoid completely
    • It will make things easier later, if you make this one decision now.
  13. Make your goal to eat mindfully, not complete avoidance or deprivation
  14. Don’t beat yourself up when you don’t meet your expectation 100%
    • Learn from your mistakes and move on. Harping on it will not change a thing! Let it go-

So what things will YOU be working on this year? I want to see them written below!


Small Group Personal Training is taking off!

The Small Group Training (SGT) Program is an exciting new option being offered for those that want to take their fitness to the next level. These SGT programs consist of specifically designed training sessions to help people learn how to safely, effectively and efficiently meet their goals within a supportive small group environment.

The SGT participants are able to set specific goals for themselves personally and as a group. The small group atmosphere combines the great motivation and camaraderie of group exercise with the custom designed training progression previously only available through personal training. Each session improves upon the last by utilizing an end of session de-briefing to reinforce skills and move forward in our training goals. Because of the personalized attention, the group can more quickly progress towards their goals and utilize a wider variety of exercises, including compound strength training moves and agility drills, than can be taught in a larger class setting. This results in an extremely effective work-out that is safe, fun, and challenging.

Not only are the customized sessions designed for you and the other group members, just as you would find in a personal training session, we are putting an emphasis on making your body stronger, improving your cardiovascular fitness, and increasing the caloric expenditure like never before. We offer six sessions throughout our Spring Schedule, as well as arrange private group sessions outside the scheduled time.  The biggest “value” to our customers participating in this specialized program offering is that the client receives a customized progression developed specifically for the group. This type of customized progression allows goal attainment that cannot be found within a general group exercise class, otherwise only found in Personal Training.

Justin, Katie, and Jay are all experienced Certified Personal Trainers who excel at designing effective exercise progressions.  All take great pride in conducting up-to-date research and custom designing each and every workout to best meet the individual and group needs.  Grab another member, a friend, a colleague, and get in the best shape of your life!